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Growing up, I was taught to be fearless. It’s shameful to sleep with a nightlight, to cower at mannequins and clowns, to admit that you’re afraid. In movies, the hero is always the fearless one that selflessly leaps into danger and tackles the enemy.
I lived trying to be fearless. I would climb to the roof and jump because I wasn’t afraid of heights. I would sit in the dark alone, torturing myself, because I wouldn’t admit I was scared of the dark. Through all of this, I was okay with putting on a mask, because it meant I was fearless.
The most ironic thing of all was, I was doing all of this out of fear. My biggest fear was to be afraid. I couldn’t bear the thought of being weak, because if you’re weak, you get hurt. And I was scared beyond reason of being hurt.
So, naturally, when my father began to die in my arms, I couldn’t admit that I was so scared, I felt like sobbing and tearing my hair out. I put on a brave face, and hoped to God no one could see under it.
As a kid, this plan worked well for me. I could ignore the pain with My Little Pony, and slides, and a smile. As a teenager however, things became different. These things I had pushed down for so long came bubbling to the surface, pushing through like a flood to a dam.
I didn’t know how to handle all of the new emotions I was feeling. I became trapped in my own mind. And then, sitting on the floor next to my blow-up-mattress, I remembered something. When my older sister was my age, she self-harmed. And for some reason, it clicked for me. If it worked for her, it must work for me to, right?
So, I sluggishly walked to my sisters caboodle, and I started to sort through it. I searched for what seemed like forever, but finally, in a white makeup case with roses on it, I found them. A razer blade and a firefighters knife. I picked up the blade with shaky hands and I put it against my pale skin. I swiped as hard as I could. I’m seeing no blood, I did it again, and again, until I had a web of cuts on my wrist, and blood stained my carpet.
For a while, I kept it hidden. But a few days later, my stepfather saw it. My sleeve had slipped down accidentally, and I ran to my room in panic, the weight of the world crushing me. He opened my door and sat on my bed.
He looked me in the eyes and told me he did the same thing at my age. He told me that if it helped I should keep doing it. He told me it would help me.
So the next day, I did it to my other arm while at school, until the floor of the library became stained with red. I sobbed and sobbed but it didn’t change anything.
The next person to notice was my school nurse, who called CPS. And because of this, and my stepfathers drug problems, I was taken away.
And suddenly, my anger wasn’t silent anymore. It had gone from repressed, to silently screaming, to real screaming. I became so mad that I cursed out teachers, I became brutally blunt and quite frankly, a bitch.
I wore my pain on my face, because my worst fear had come true. I had been hurt, badly. So, even when I was retrieved from the group home, my anger stayed with me. I was known as the crazy bitch. I didn’t care about anything or anyone anymore. I was a ticking time bomb—one poke and I would explode.
For a while, I lived like this, perfectly unhappy. Unfortunately, as life went on, my anger began to harm those around me in a way I hadn’t noticed before.
Even though my anger stayed, I didn’t direct it anyone anymore. But I started to have mental breakdowns. I was beaten down and used, mistreated and weak. I had become what I despised the most. So I ran back to what started it all, cutting. It gave me a brief escape.
A friend of mine said something to me a few weeks ago. He told me I was strong because I didn’t deflect my pain into anyone. That I could keep smiling, and that made me strong. But when I cut, that is the weakest he had ever seen me.
And then it hit me. I had become my worst fear. I have into the weakness day after day. I was weak. So I took the razor and I used it to cut a slit in my eyebrow.
I had been to weak as a kid to admit that I was scared, but I’m not anymore.
I am scared.
I am scared of what the future has to hold.
I am scared of commitment.
I am scared of death, of the dark, of my stepfather hurting me again.
And god damn, I’m scared of mannequins and killer clowns.